Searchlight Signals

Discussion in 'Clinton Subdivision' started by dricketts, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    I read in the forums that searchlight signals were widely used on the Frisco. Is this true for the Clinton sub during the 60's - 70's? Was the Clinton sub CTC territory?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2011
  2. mark

    mark Staff Member Staff Member


    The Clinton subdivision was dark territory. There was never adequate traffic density to justify the expense of ABS, much less CTC. During the time period you mentioned the traffic had slowly withered away to only every other day locals in the 1970.

    Frisco trains operated over the Kansas City Terminal (KCT) Railway from 19th Street to Sheffield and after the mid 1960s from Blue Valley (BV) Junction to Dodson over the Missouri Pacific (MP) Railroad. These other lines were signaled.

    Hope this helps.


    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2011
  3. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    Yes it does. Was it completely dark all the way to Springfield? I'm somewhat familiar with CTC but not ABS. Does this mean you wouldn't see any kind of signals along the Highline including the Clinton yard? 1950's - 1970's...
  4. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Dark territory means no signals.
  5. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    So the Clinton yard and where the MKT crossed the Frisco there was not one signal anywhere? I just want to be as accurate as possible in my modeling efforts. I've been working on a V scale model of the Highline with accurate DEM data for a few months now.

    I have a lot of different signals to choose from including semaphores, searchlight, and invisible. Invisible signals are needed at the very least for proper AI running of trains in the Clinton yard and south to Springfield. From a modeling perspective I wanted to choose the closest type of signals the Frisco used on the Clinton sub even if was just a couple in the yard.
  6. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    They probably had gates and smashboards at junctions. That would be typical for a "dark" railroad. And the open stations would have had train order boards. Sufficient for light traffic. Those special rules and instructions in the backs of the employee timetables would explain it.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2011
  7. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    If anyone could post some pics of Frisco Smashboards or gates at juctions used in dark territory I would greatly appreciate it.
  8. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2023
  9. slsfrr (Jerome Lutzenberger RIP 9/1/2018)

    slsfrr (Jerome Lutzenberger RIP 9/1/2018) Engineer Staff Member Supporter

  10. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    Go to Google Images and type in: "railroad smashboard signals and gates."

    Also, I think the Model Railroader (MR) and Model Railroad Planning (MRR) or maybe Classic Trains articles by Paul Dolkos about the chick trains and the switching on the highline showed one of those gates. Sorry, don't remember the dates.

    Those articles have been referenced here before, but I can't ever find anything since the update.


    Edit: Here's a reference:
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2023
  11. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    Thanks everyone that gives me some great info to start building details around the MKT crossing. I was also wondering about switches. In the Clinton yard and at passing sidings along the Highline. Were any gates used at junctions or just the simple disc signal atop the switch lever?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2011
  12. john

    john Supporter

    Here's the standard plans for a Frisco crossing gate in the time period you are interested in.


    Attached Files:

  13. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    John, thank you for the gate drawings! That's helpful for me; the only pics I have of any gates is a gate on the Cotton Belt line protecting against the MoP at Delta, MO. I'd much rather have plans for a Frisco prototype!

    I will have to give serious consideration again to modeling the KCC&S through Olathe. I can't remember if there was interlocking or a gate there prior to abandonment, but I may have to use some modeler's license.

    Steve, you've laid out some interesting and helpful operational information for those of us modeling the Kansas City area. Many thanks for the details.

    Best Regards,
  14. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    I have drawings of fixed signals found in association with crossings, and I will post them.

    Indeed, there a numerous Eastern Div ETT's posted on this site that will answer lots of questions with regard to operations.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2011
  15. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    Thanks guys, great info. I love the gate crossing plans. I'll study the ETT's a little closer.

    Someone mentioned earlier that crossing gates might have been found at switches that controlled access to the passing sidings. Is this true for the towns between Clinton and Springfield?
  16. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    So were these train order signals the semaphore style?
  17. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Derrick, it seems that the types of train order boards varied by location. Your best bet is to use the "search" tools, look for a specific depot and let the photographic evidence be your guide.

    Best Regards,
  18. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2023
  19. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    A gate would only be used at a location where one railroad crossed another at grade. Traffic density and speed would have to be low on one or both routes. Otherwise, an interlocking, either manual or automatic, would be used.

    The gate served two basic purposes. It was a visible means to show which route had to stop at a given time and it also provided physical evidence when a train that was required to stop did not (aka smashed gate).

    For main track operation, a gate would always have a fixed signal placed a certain distance in advance of the gate. This could be a sign or an active signal, such as a block or distant signal. A gate always has a normal position. When not in use, it has to be left in this position.

    If both routes were low speed, the gate could be lined against the opposing railroad as long as there was no train closely approaching the crossing. It was secured with a switch lock and nothing else.

    If one of the routes operates at a higher speed (typically above 20 or 30 mph) and/or is signaled, an electric lock will be used. In simple terms, the electric lock prevents someone from opening the gate in the face of a train approaching on the higher speed route.

    I worked on the Missouri Pacific Carthage Subdivision for many years. There were two crossings with the Frisco in Harrisonville. Each was protected with an electrically locked gate with normal position against the Frisco. The MP had a block signal on either side of the two crossings. These signals are commonly referred to as the home signals.

    A distant signal was in place a mile or two in advance of each of these two signals. If an MP train was approaching one of these distant signals, neither one of the gates could be unlocked and swung out against the MP until its train had passed.

    If a Frisco train was there sufficiently in advance of an MP train, they could open the gate. This would cause the distant signals to display distant approach which was a warning for an MP train to be prepared to stop at the home signal.

    The home signals were stop and proceed signals which would allow a train to pass them at restricted speed once a stop was made. After stopping, a train could move up to see if either one of the gates was "open." If so, the MP train would stop and wait for the Frisco train to clear the crossing and "close" the gate. I never had to wait very long. The Frisco crews were real good about getting out of the way ASAP.

    As far as sidings go, there is no need for a gate. The switches are equipped with a target or lamp to show their position. The normal position for a main track switch is always for the main and it must be restored to this position when not in use. This is especially important in dark territory. Train Order rules or Track Warrant Control rules for modern day operation determine when and where trains stop and who takes the siding at meets, etc.

    As far as B.V. Jct. and Dodson go there were no block signals in advance of the junction switches. There was probably some type of fixed signal in advance of these locations, but I'm not familiar enough with Frisco standard practice to say for sure. The switches to enter the MP main were hand throw, electrically locked switches. The MP dispatcher would have given Frisco crews verbal authority to enter the main track which was in CTC territory.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2023
  20. dricketts

    dricketts Member Supporter

    Great descriptions and explanations wmrx. That gives me some really good insight of real world operations and the trackside equipment used.

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